Clinton first pitch
The tradition of Presidents tossing out the first pitch started with Ohio native William Howard Taft in 1910. The hefty chief tossed the pitch out from his seat at a Washington Senators game and a tradition was born.
President’s tossing out the first pitch became a thing seemingly everywhere, except Cleveland. That’s probably because Cleveland’s professional baseball team didn’t play a meaningful game for the better part of four decades between 1955-1993.
That all changed in 1994, when Jacobs Field opened on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland.
There was a different feeling toward the Tribe. The team had young, exciting core for the first time in years. They were ready to contend.
Such a big occasion deserves the Presidential treatment, and Bill Clinton was happy to oblige. It probably didn’t hurt that Ohio, much like it is now, is one of the most important swing states in the country because of its bellwether status.
Then Indians manager Mike Hargrove recalled how his son, Andy Hargrove, turned down an opportunity to help Clinton warm up in the bowels of the stadium because of his Dad’s political leanings, via Cleveland.com.
“Andy was about 12 and he said, ‘My dad doesn’t like him, so I can’t play catch with him!’ ” said Hargrove, laughing as he recalled the story. Can’t blame Andy, he thought he was backing his father.
“The thing is, I did like Bill Clinton,” said Hargrove. “I met him several times later when I managed in Baltimore. I never voted for him, but I really liked him.”